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 The microwave is my favorite kitchen appliance that I cannot live without.  Why you might ask…because I use it every day!  It is the ideal way to heat up leftovers or prepare breakfast such as oatmeal.  I think my mom would also agree with me on this topic.  Our family would not be able to function without a microwave.  I was raised on leftovers, which were a product of the microwave.  My mom and dad have shared stories about my Great Grandfather Lawrence, who was also a fan of the microwave.  It was not hard for Lawrence to switch over from the stove to the microwave once he made the great purchase.  I am the same way.  If I have the choice of using the stove or the microwave for a task, I always choose the microwave!   It is always a simple decision for me. 🙂

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This coming week we are going to be watching “Big Night” in class.  There were a few assigned readings with this movie, “A Celebration of the Italian Culture” and “Cooking for Mr. Latte”.  Here are my thoughts about the following readings leading up to the movie.    

“A Celebration of the Italian Culture” gave an overview and background information about the movie “Big Night”.  The movie is supposed to portray a good experience of the first generation Italian Americans.  I was impressed to find out that Tucci’s mother, Joan, helped with all of the food preparation for the movie. Without giving too much of the movie away and generalizing too much about the movie before viewing, I took away a few quotes from this article.  They are “Italians are capable of making cooking into an art and eating into an experience approaching ecstasy” and “Italian cooking does not happen instantaneously, it is a patient and loving process.”  I am looking forward to seeing this movie because it sounds very intriguing and compelling.

 “Cooking for Mr. Latte” was an article about a lady going to Rome with her grandmother, but her grandmother was very stuck in her ways.  For instance, the grandmother asked for a salad at a restaurant in Rome – she messed with the Italian tradition of multiple courses.  She was not interested in eating all of the different courses because she was not that hungry.  Her granddaughter tried to explain that, “It’s more about the variety and rhythm of the meal.”  However, her grandmother did not budge on the topic.  She was very stubborn on her beliefs, and did not experience the true Italian culture.  As I was reading this article, I could not help but think of my own family.  They possess a lot of the same traits as the grandmother from the article.  They are both very stubborn and set in their ways.  I could see some of my family members making the same exact claim!

 I will post more about these topics after further discussion in class.

   

Part of my Spring Break was spent in Huntsville, Alabama visiting my boyfriend.  Sunday afternoon we went to the Chocolate Crocodile for a treat.  He had the Twinkie covered in white chocolate, and I had the marshmallows covered in milk chocolate.  This was a sweet and satisfying surprise!

Check out more of the delicious treats on the website:   http://www.thechocolatecrocodile.com/

Food and Transgression

According to Wikipedia there are multiple types of transgression.  There is Biblical transgression, which is a violation of God’s Ten Commandments.  There is legal transgression, which is a crime usually created by a social or economic boundary.  There is also social transgression, which is violating a norm.  I am going to tackle this topic from the broad meaning of transgression, the meaning of breaking a rule.

Thinking about it like this, I guess I used to break my mom’s rule of eating sweets before dinner.   My Grandma Troesch should be the culprit for this violation because she provided the sweets.  My brother and I used to get home from school before my parents were home from work, so we got off the bus at my Grandma and Grandpa Troesch’s house, just down the road for ours.   The typical after school snack was an oatmeal pie, at least one, accompanied with a soda of choice.   We hit the jackpot on the days where grandma went to the store earlier in the day.  She liked to get homemade doughnuts from the store bakery or the Dubious County Bakery.  We all know those were not healthy snacks for us, but they were delicious.  I think our main problem was the quantity of sweets that we ate because my brother and I started to get a little chunky there for awhile.  After this, my mom started to send apples with us.  We were dropped off at grandma’s house in the morning to get on the bus with apples in hand.  She kept them in the fridge during the day, and then pealed them and cut them in slices so they were happily waiting for us after school.  Even though we had apples, we still had sweets everyone once in awhile.  That was what grandma’s house was for – the sweets before dinner time!

Food is also used as a solution to transgression sometimes.  For instance, if there is a fight some people like to make up for the fight with food.  Some people like to make up for a mistake or a forgotten birthday by treating others to dinner. 

Therefore transgression can be in the form of food or food can be the solution to transgression.  Food and transgression is again one of those inevitable cycles in life, which I have never specifically pondered.

“Playing for Pizza”

“Playing for Pizza” was a good read.  I found myself last weekend with nothing to do.  It was nice to have a pleasure read.

 While reading the book I jotted down notes about the Italian culture.  I was first surprised to find out that a dinner took them approximately four hours.  Once you factor in all of the courses it does make since, but four hours is a long time.  When I go out to eat, dinner usually takes an hour at most.  I noted that Rick was amused by their love of conversation at the table.  I know people who do not even talk when they eat!  It would be nice to be exposed to this atmosphere once in awhile.  It seems very relaxing and delicious to say the least.  I would agree with Rick’s thought that Italians do take their food for granted.  As we have discussed in class, it was explained in the book that Tortellini was modeled after the belly button of a naked lady.  I will never look at Tortellini the same again.  The few times that the police came for Rick, for no reason at all, it was stated that they did not have handcuffs.  This was another aspect of the culture that was more relaxed than in the states.  On the same note, there was an ashtray in the hallway.  It is rare to find an ashtray outside the designated smoking areas nowadays.  Some other facts about the Italian culture mentioned included that they mainly drive manual cars, buy their groceries daily, and that the opera is more popular than soccer in Parma.  Let’s just say that I would be taking driver’s education again, if that is required, because I do not know how to drive a manual.  One more item – I was impressed with the Italians’ devotion and love for the American football game.  They were playing without even getting paid.  Again, this book was a pleasurable read while learning more about the Italian culture.

The article by Anthony Lane pertaining to the movie “I am Love” was hard for me to read.  I am not for sure what it was but I did not follow it very well.  The only thing that I took away from the articles was that the movie was going to be about food and sex…and that it was.

 I enjoyed watching the movie “I am Love”.  It was a different style than what I am used to.  The pace of the movie was much slower than what I am used to.  However, I felt like there were a lot more details and emotions tied into the storyline.  Also the ending was very abrupt and unexpected, unlike the typical endings in the US.  I feel like most of the movies here end with an overall happy ending.  For instance, “the nerdy guy always gets the pretty girl in the end”.  This movie ended with the truth of the reality.  The ending was not sugar coated.

 Here is a collection of my general opinions pertaining to the movie.  I was surprised by the size of the estate.  It was a beautiful place, but it was a lot of work for the service workers.  They were very committed and devoted to the family.  Not only were the service workers loyal to the family, but the family was also considerate to them.  It would probably be common for most service workers here in the US to be taken advantage of.  The food in the movie was very precise and meticulous.  There was a great amount of detail placed in the food.  In the end, it was the food that changed the lives of them all.  I would like to place a little more attention on Emma’s character.  I felt sorry for her because of her situation.  At the beginning of the movie I felt as if she was not happy.  It seemed like she was trying to be something she was not.  Her husband was never around and he did not try to connect to her feelings. It seemed like she could not bring up the situation around him.  He had her around to fit the perfect wife and mother image.  He was too busy with his work to connect to his family.   This all changed when she met Antonio and tasted his food!   I think she felt like Antonio understood her.  They could connect to each other in many ways.  The cutting of her hair signified the shedding of her past.  She was leaving behind the expected, proper image in order to become herself again.  Removing her clothes forcefully relayed her desire for escape.  The movie ended with Emma SET FREE!

A few weeks ago in class we discussed the slow food movement, where the goal is to enrich food with natural growing processes.  This topic reminded me about a branch of my mom’s employer, Snail’s Pace Paper.   The link for the website is below.  They make sustainable paper products including cards, wrapping paper, notebooks etc.  I feel like these sustainable approaches are necessary to protect our environment.

 http://www.snailspacepaper.com/

The assignment was to read the Antonia and Ian chapters from this book.  From reading these chapters, I feel like the book was comprised of detailed descriptions about each character enrolled in the cooking class.  I found myself smiling and greatly enjoying these chapters while reading.

There were notes that I wrote down pertaining to Antonia and Ian.  I made note of the characteristics I admired about each of them.  For starters, Antonia was a very free spirited type of lady who believed in the sense of originality.  She left Italy for a “cold shower.”  She wanted to wake up her soul.  She believed that it was good not to know things because this brought about possibilities.   These traits were also expressed in her profession as a kitchen designer.  A client wanted to modernize an old kitchen.  However, Antonia fell in love with its charm and originality at first sight.  The large fireplace reminded her of her grandmother’s kitchen.   After cooking a meal for the client, she convinced them that it would be acceptable to “keep things that are good and true.”

 Surprisingly, Antonia and Ian were socially connected.  They were both joined by a cooking class.  Ian’s mother provided him with these cooking classes because she knew he was a cook.  She was an artist and never really cooked, but she knew what was right for Ian.  He did find a passion for cooking, which was enlightened by the mysterious Chinese restaurant below his apartment.   He learned to eat more slowly in order to unravel the puzzle.  Not only were Antonia and Ian connected through the cooking class; Ian also admired Antonia. They had a linoleum date where they learned about each other.  Ian was the complete opposite compared to Antonia.  He wanted to be certain about everything.  He invited Antonia over for dinner, but he wanted it to be perfect.  He wanted her for the rest of his life, and that is how he cooked.  He prepared a beef bourguignon and a tiramisu.  This was his first time making a tiramisu, which I found rather ironic since his personality was always to be certain.  He was not certain about the tiramisu.  He took a chance for a possibility!

 This was a great read!

Food and Sickness

These two words do not go hand in hand like most of the other blog postings.  I mean, I do not like to think of food and sickness in the same sentence.  That is just not any fun.  I am going to tackle this topic from two different perspectives.  One is going to be about the food I eat when I am sick, and the other is going to be about the sicknesses people face involving food.

 I can remember being sick as a child and staying home from school.  There were traditional foods that my parents prepared for me when I was under the weather.   The most famous entrée was chicken noodle soup.  I never liked the chicken noodle soup very much.  I think that Campbell’s has changed their chicken noodle soup nowadays because I can now tolerate it as a usual meal.  Another food item that I remember having was jello.  My favorite flavor was cherry.  My mom was the one who usually stayed home with me or my brother when we were sick.  If my brother and I had to choose between mom and dad when we were sick, we would probably always choose mom.  Mom was just better at tending to us when we were sick.  However, I can remember my dad staying home with us on a few occasions.  Dad always liked to settle an upset stomach with Sprite and toast.  What a weird combination!  To this day, I can hardly drink Sprite because it reminds me of being sick as a child.  I would like to share one story about my dad taking care of my brother when he was sick.  My mom was out of town on business, and my dad received a call from the school saying that Kyle, my brother, needed to go home.  My dad left work to pick up Kyle.  When he arrived at the nurse’s office, Kyle did not look very sick to Dad.  However, Kyle’s teacher thought he had pink eye.  Dad ended up taking Kyle to the family doctor, but they said that he did not have pink eye – it was a false alarm.  It was no use to take Kyle back to school since it was late in the afternoon, so Dad and Kyle went out to eat at Grandy’s.  Kyle had never been to Grandy’s before this, but he had always loved fried chicken and mashed potatoes.  Dad always concludes this story by saying, “When were walking back to the truck, Kyle looked at me, rubbing his stomach, and said THAT WAS GOOD DAD!”.  So my brother got out of school to have fried chicken and mashed potatoes with my dad because he was sick.  To this day, Kyle still likes to go to Grandy’s.

The other topic that comes to my mind about food and sickness are eating disorders.   A large number of people in the US suffer from eating disorders.  I do not know much about the statistics in other countries.  However, here in the US it is a big problem.  I think that there is too much pressure placed on individuals to look a certain way.  The media exploits this so called perfect image.  I know several girls, personally, who have had eating disorders.  They ended up getting help, which is good because there are numerous health risks associated with eating disorders.   In my opinion, there should be more media attention directed at eating healthy and exercising in order to feel good inside and also look good on the outside.

“La Bella Lingua”

Reading “La Bella Lingua” was very entertaining.  I am going to list a few of the expressions and topics that I found amusing and interesting.

  • “It will be spaghetti that will unite Italy”
  • “When we eat pasta, we ingest a bit of its culture too”
  • Italy’s food and language was compared to cheese on macaroni
  • Origins of risotto alla Milanese dated back to the 14th century – WOW
  • “Measure oil by the finger and flour by the fist”
  • Eating alone is almost too sad to contemplate in Italy
  • Pasta emerged in the Middle Ages
  • There was discussion on how to dress a flame breathing peacock or standing calf –No thanks for me
  • I will have to find the cookbook mentioned “Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well”
  • “That’s not just food you are eating, it’s Italy”